Jul 28, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Democratic congressman explores 2024 primary challenge to Biden

Rep. Dean Phillips. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) on Friday confirmed reporting that he is being pushed to challenge President Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2024.

Why it matters: The moderate three-term congressman would be by far the most politically established Biden rival were he to mount a bid.

Driving the news: Phillips has been receiving "inquiries about his willingness to challenge Biden" and will meet with Democratic donors about the prospect in New York City next week, according to Politico.

  • The outlet reported that Phillips is expected only to launch a bid if the 80-year-old president suffers a major decline in health or popularity.
  • "The reporting is accurate," Phillips told Axios. He first confirmed it to the Star Tribune.

Between the lines: Phillips, a moderate who flipped a GOP-held seat in 2018 and now serves as a co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, is not a household name outside his home state.

  • Politico compared a potential run to Eugene McCarthy's challenge to Lyndon Johnson in 1968 – opening the door for more well-known insurgents.

The backdrop: Since last year, Phillips has been openly expressing hesitation about the idea of renominating Biden.

  • He said last July he wouldn't support Biden's reelection, calling for a "new generation of compelling, well-prepared, dynamic Democrats."
  • Even after many of his fellow Democrats threw their support behind Biden in April when he formally launched his campaign, Phillips held off.
  • "American democracy is made stronger by competition," he told Axios at the time. "Coronations are antithetical to democracy, and competition always results in the best possible candidate."
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